Former Sandburg student authors children’s book

Former Sandburg student authors children’s book

This post has already been read 154 times!

Sandburg High school graduate Ashley Pickens authors a new illustrated children’s book inspired by her late father who pushed her to enjoy art as a young child. The new book, Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim, will be featured at a book party Friday June 12 from 5 pm until 9 pm at Barraco’s in Mt. Greenwood.

By Ray Hanania

Orland Park author Ashley Pickens

Orland Park author Ashley Pickens

Former Sandburg High school graduate Ashley Pickens has authored a new illustrated children’s book “Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim” that she will showcase during a book party this Friday at Barraco’s in Mt. Greenwood.

A resident of Orland Park and now attending Lewis University, Ashley Pickens illustrated the book, drawing on skills she learned from her father, Jeff Pickens, who passed away in 2008.

Her father’s passing muted her creative drive but she returned to her drawing and art interests when she entered Junior High School.

“I decided that I wanted to do something that would send a message to everyone, especially to the younger generations,” Pickens says. Her father’s memories inspired her to write and illustrate the children’s book.

“This book teaches young children that being unique is okay and helps them grow as readers.”

Pickens said the public is invited to the book party this Friday, June 12 from 5 pm until 9 pm at Barracos Pizza, 3047 W 111th Street, Chicago. For more information, you can call the restaurant at 773-239-3333.

“Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim is filled with rhyming words and word families to enhance children’s vocabulary and reading, but overall has a great message and is a fun book for all children,” Pickens, 21, explains.

The new illustrated children's book

The new illustrated children’s book “Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim” now available at and

At the age of 21, Pickens expresses, in her own words, that “we are all different and that is what makes us unique. Embracing and celebrating these differences brings out our purest emotion, LOVE! Life is about not knowing what is going to come next, but realizing that everything happens for a reason. Taking each moment that is given to us and making the best of it can change your life forever. Trust in your journey and be yourself. True beauty shines through acceptance, confidence, courage, and love!”

Ashley Picken’s book “Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim” is available online at and

The book will also be selling it at The Kimberly Bond Boutique in Orland Park.

Show your support and attend the book party and help Ashley spread the book’s beautiful message to children everywhere!

Click here to like the “Waddle with Scuttle or Swim with Kim” Facebook Page


This post has already been read 154 times!

Ray Hanania

Ray Hanania is an award winning former Chicago City Hall reporter and Columnist who began writing in 1975 when he published The Middle Eastern Voice newspaper in Chicago (1975-1977). He covered Chicago City Hall from 1976 through 1992 (Mayor Daley to Mayor Daley) and has expanded to writing for newspapers around the world focussed on Middle East and American politics.

Hanania loves to write about American Arabs in politics, and focuses on Arab life in America.

Currently, he writes weekly columns on Middle East and American Arab issues for the Arab News in Saudi Arabia at He writes on American politics for the Des Plaines Valley News, Southwest News-Herald, The Regional News newspaper and the Reporter Newspapers. He also writes for the online websites and (Illinois News Network at

Palestinian, American Arab and Christian, Hanania’s parents originate from Jerusalem and Bethlehem. Hanania began in journalism as an activist publishing Chicago’s first English-language American Arab Newspaper “The Middle Eastern Voice” from 1975 through 1977. In 1976, he was hired by the Chicago community newspaper The Southtown Economist (Daily Southtown) and in 1985 was hired by the Chicago Sun-Times and covered Chicago City Hall for both. In 1993, he launched the “The Villager” Newspapers which covered 12 Southwest Chicagoland suburban regions. In 2004, he published “The National Arab American Times” monthly newspaper which was distributed through 12,500 Middle East ethnic food stores in 48 American States.

Hanania is the recipient of four (4) Chicago Headline Club “Peter Lisagor Awards” for Column writing. In November 2006, he was named “Best Ethnic American Columnist” by the New American Media;In 2009, he received the prestigious Sigma Delta Chi Award for Writing from the Society of Professional Journalists. He is the recipient of the MT Mehdi Courage in Journalism Award. Hanania has also received two (2) Chicago Stick-o-Type awards from the Chicago Newspaper Guild, and in 1990 was nominated by the Chicago Sun-Times for a Pulitzer Prize for his four-part series on the Palestinian Intifada.

Hanania’s writings have been published in newspapers around the world. Formerly syndicated by Creators Syndicate, Hanania also has written news, features and Opinion Columns for Al Jazeera English, the Jerusalem Post,, Arab News, Saudi Gazette, Newsday in New York, the Orlando Sentinel, the Houston Chronicle, The Daily Star, the News of the World, the Daily Yomimuri in Tokyo, Chicago Magazine, the Arlington Heights Daily Herald, and Aramco Magazine. His political columns are published in the Southwest News-Herald and Des Plaines Valley News, Regional News and Palos Reporter newspapers in Chicagoland. Hanania is the President/CEO of Urban Strategies Group media and public affairs consulting which has clients in Illinois, Florida, Michigan and Washington D.C.

Hanania is Palestinian Christian from prominent Bethlehem and Jerusalem families. His wife and son are Jewish and he performs standup comedy lampooning Arab-Jewish relations, advocating for peace based on non-violence, mutual recognition and Two-States.

His Facebook Page is

Email him at: